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Best Bottle Award 2023: Port wine for the coronation of King Charles III takes the crown

by Dorli Muhr

As part of the Arlberg Weinberg event series from 7 to 17 December in Lech Zürs, the 'Best Bottle Award' was presented to the Burg Hotel in Oberlech on Monday, 11 December.

Rare wine dealer trinkreif invited every restaurant in Austria's Arlberg region to take part in this competition to find the best wine of a defined style. This year, they were asked to provide their most exciting wine from their list in the 'Fortified Wines' category.

 "Madeiras, ports and sherries belong to this category with sophisticated restaurants and a wintry landscape the ideal backdrop for these wines," explains Clemens Riedl, founder of trinkreif and initiator of the Best Bottle Award.

A dozen restaurants submitted wines for this competition. The jury, which was made up of international wine critics and experts as well as local sommeliers, was able to taste great and rare wines of this special style.

Royal rarity

The winner was an exceptional speciality: a Tawny bottled by the port house Taylors to mark the coronation of King Charles III in 2023, after spending many decades maturing in wooden barrels.

This rarity was submitted by Burg Hotel in Oberlech. Gerhard Lucian accepted the trophy, which was designed by Austrian artist Markus Hofer. The sculpture integrates the (empty) bottle of a Colheita Magnum 1997 from Niepoort, which is mounted upside down on a base plate, the shape of which in turn traces the shape of Lech.

In addition to the King Charles Port, the jury also had eleven other great Ports, Sherries and Madeiras in their glasses. These included a 50-year-old Madeira from Barbeito, vintage ports from 1963, 1970 and 1977 and a deep, dark Pedro Ximénez sherry.

"Lech is an incredible place," said Ricardo Freitas from Barbeito (Madeira) during a panel discussion in the morning. "Rare and valuable wines are stored and matured here until they reach their ideal drinking maturity." This is a notable exception in a world where everything is produced and consumed quicker and quicker. "Our wines need time," confirmed Daniel Niepoort from the Port wine house of the same name. "The vines are often a hundred years old, the wines mature for decades in the barrel – and here in Lech, these specialities are cared for and served with great respect."

The bottles nominated for Best Bottle Award 2023
©Anna Stöcher

About Arlberg Weinberg & trinkreif

The Arlberg Weinberg events run until 17 December.

Arlberg Weinberg is an initiative of Lech Zürs Tourism. The series of events is intended to support the positioning of Lech Zürs as the premier gourmet village in the Austrian Alps. In addition to the exceptionally high number of top rated restaurants in gourmet guides, its wine cellars are also legendary.

trinkreif is a rare wine merchant based in Vienna, which specialises in the marketing of mature, exceptional and rare wines.

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About Arlberg Weinberg

Lech Zürs am Arlberg offers guests remarkable skiing, outstanding culinary delights, and the finest of wines. The “Arlberg Weinberg” event, traditionally held in the first week of December, lavishes attendees with fantastic wines, culinary highlights, and captivating events. The program is tailor-made for wine lovers who also enjoy time on the slopes and joys for all the senses.

Arlberg Weinberg
Lech Zürs Tourismus
Dorf 2
6764 Lech am Arlberg

Arlberg Weinberg

Lech Zürs am Arlberg during winter
Dorli Muhr
Owner & Managing Director

Dorli, a university-trained translator, founded Wine+Partners in 1991 while still a student. With tremendous passion and tenacity, she has helmed the firm for more than 30 years, transforming it from a one-woman show into an internationally renowned agency.